Programming note: Today, Thursday, I'll be back behind the Golden EIB Microphone for three hours of substitute-host-level Excellence In Broadcasting sitting in for Rush on America's Number One radio show. The fun starts at 12 noon Eastern/9am Pacific. Hope you'll dial us up either via the iHeart Radio app or on one of over 600 stations across the fruited plain, such as our old friends at WNTK New Hampshire, where you can listen to the full show from anywhere on the planet right here.
~I'm not sure what's on the rundown for today's broadcast, but, not for the first time, I'm reminded that the old saw about history repeating itself - first tragedy, then farce - gets things the wrong way round. Every time I glance at the news, an old gag of mine from fifteen years ago is being reprised with a straight face. For example, on Tuesday the Miss America pageant announced that it would no longer include a swimsuit competition:
"We've heard from a lot of young women who say, 'We'd love to be a part of your program but we don't want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,' so guess what, you don't have to do that anymore," Gretchen Carlson, chairwoman of the Miss America Organization, told "Good Morning America."
"Who doesn't want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul," she said. "That's what we're judging them on now."
Yeah, well, good luck with that. If you've got a copy of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore, and make a lovely Father's Day gift), or if you've seen me on stage in Toronto and elsewhere, you'll be familiar with my beloved "My Sharia Amour" routine. It began in 2002 when Nigerian Muslims rioted over the Miss World competition and it was suggested that the event should be more "culturally sensitive". So I wrote a whimsical fantasy on what a "culturally sensitive" Miss World might look like:
I glanced at my watch. "For crying out loud, when are they going to raise the curtain?"
"They have raised the curtain," said David Hasselhoff. "Those are the girls." I peered closer at the shapeless line of black cloth, and he was right: there they all were, from Miss Afghanistan to Miss Zionist Entity.
I sighed. "How long till the swimsuit round?"
"This is the swimsuit round," said David.
Five years ago Miss World abolished the swimsuit round for real - and, as John Hinderaker notes, hasn't been heard of since. Now Miss America has followed suit. Thanks to the progressive left's trailblazing, you'll barely notice when the mullahs take over.
~While I disagree with Gretchen Carlson on the Miss America swimsuit round, I am in full agreement with her on the iniquity of mandatory "confidential" arbitration clauses in contracts. Gretchen's observations on sexual harassment claims apply more broadly:
The company wipes their forehead with their hand and goes, "Phew, nobody will ever know about this," because of these clauses. Then you get thrown into forced arbitration where, oftentimes, the company picks your arbitrator for you. You don't get the same number of witnesses and depositions [as you would in court]. Rarely does the employee win â€” only 20 percent of the time. And there are no appeals.
Everyone thinks arbitration is swifter, simpler and more efficient than going to a regular court. In fact, it's everything a court is - with the added wrinkle that you have to pay for the judge, the clerks, the bailiff, the court reporter, the courthouse janitor, etc. So, for example, in county court a lowly employee at least has the option of representing herself. In arbitration, even if you decide to represent yourself, you still have to pony up for all the above.
In my own stupendous victory over vexatious litigants CRTV, you'll notice (page 20) that, aside from damages, attorney's fees, interest, etc, the judge ordered CRTV to pay me $76,574.98 in arbitration costs. Several readers thought that was the costs of the suit - lawyers' travel expenses, stenographers for depositions, etc. Not at all. That's the American Arbitration Association's bill for hosting the case. And you have to pay upfront. That's like the New Hampshire District Court saying, sure, we'll hear your case, but it'll cost you 75 grand. For the average person, that's a significant amount of dough to roll on a 20 per cent shot at victory. Even for handsomely remunerated independent contractors, it's a large sum to have to pay before figuring out what you'll have left for your lawyer. (In my case, it's a largely moot point because Cary Katz and CRTV have not paid a penny of that $76,574.98, never mind any of the damages. And have gone to AAA to sue me all over again, and force me to blow through another five-figure sum to get an award they'll never pay.)
Gretchen Carlson's campaign to rein in this awful and discriminatory system is worthy of your full support.
~Next week I'll be live in Toronto for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms's first ever George Jonas Freedom Award. For Rush listeners in Buffalo, that's a zippy 90 minutes up the Queen Elizabeth Way, and ,if you're minded to attend, there's a 15 per cent discount if you enter the promo code STEYNCLUB18. More details about the event here. But remember there are only two more days left to book.
We have some special events planned as we begin the second year of The Mark Steyn Club, including the inaugural Mark Steyn Club Cruise, sailing from Montreal to Boston at the height of the fall foliage season. (Those Steyn cruise cabins are selling fast, and pricing is better the earlier you book.) Club members also enjoy special member pricing on over forty products at the Steyn store, including Ã propos the Miss America news above, our My Sharia Amour gift pack. So, if you've been thinking about signing up, you can find more details about the Club here - and, if you've a chum who'd enjoy our audio fiction, video poetry and much more, don't forget our limited-time Gift Membership, which makes a great Father's Day gift.
See you on the radio in a couple of hours - and do give me a call.